Nashville, TN (November 12, 2020) – PENCIL (Public Education Needs Community Involvement and Leadership) Nashville’s premier nonprofit linking community resources to Nashville public schools, has announced the launch of an endowment campaign that will ensure a pathway exists for community investment in Nashville public schools indefinitely.
Through their Our Students, Our Future campaign, PENCIL will raise $3M over three years so that by June 2024, the organization can permanently sustain two full-time Partnership Managers who will recruit, train, match, and facilitate high-impact connections between Nashville businesses and individual public schools. The fundraising effort is the first of its kind in support of Nashville public schools.
“An investment today means students’ lives will be changed for years to come,” explains PENCIL President & CEO, Angie Adams. “We see every day the tremendous value that community relationships in schools have in terms of student academic performance, social-emotional supports, connectedness to school, and teacher appreciation. Especially now, we know that a deep bench of trained, motivated community volunteers is the absolute difference-maker, whether our schools are responding to crisis like we’ve experienced this year, or to new opportunities for their students.”
Since PENCIL’s founding by business and civic leaders in 1982, PENCIL has matched motivated business partners with individual schools to support students’ academic and life success. From 37 initial “adoptions” between companies and schools in the 1982-83 school year, PENCIL today facilitates more than 750 PENCIL Partnerships in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). Additionally, the LP PENCIL Box – Tennessee’s largest teacher resource center – is on track to distribute at least $2M in free school supplies to MNPS teachers this academic year. All told, PENCIL annually returns $5M in community resources to the District, more than three times the organization’s operating budget.
PENCIL’s work has always been driven by the needs identified by MNPS leadership. While the work has always been very meaningful, never has it felt more critical.
MNPS Director Dr. Adrienne Battle affirms that PENCIL Partnerships are essential to meeting the needs of a highly diverse and dynamic student population. “We are constantly seeking to ensure that every student has a personalized learning experience that supports their academic success. PENCIL is an essential partner in working with us to make that happen through community engagement. This year has demonstrated how critical community relationships are to meeting students’ needs in the face of unforeseen challenges. We count on PENCIL as a top partner, so we were thrilled to learn that PENCIL is taking on this campaign to ensure the longevity of meaningful, targeted community investment in our students for years to come.”
November 12th marks the 83rd birthday of beloved PENCIL founder, Sue Spickard, in whose name current and former PENCIL Board members have established a named fund to launch PENCIL’s sustaining campaign. A former classroom teacher whose life was changed when she experienced first-hand the inequities that children in low-income schools faced versus children in affluent schools, Sue determined that she would ensure the successful Nashville business community would adopt a model of direct engagement in public schools. Many of the city’s most prominent businesses that committed to PENCIL upon its founding remain steadfast supporters, including HCA Healthcare, Ingram Industries, Kroger and Greater Nashville REALTORS® to name a few.
“HCA Healthcare has had the privilege of serving as an integral partner to PENCIL and MNPS. From the first student field trips we hosted in 1982, to today, as we engage with MNPS high school students to help them explore future healthcare and technology career paths, our team of employee volunteers have enthusiastically supported the effort. PENCIL’s role connecting the business community to MNPS is critical for student success, and we’re proud of HCA Healthcare’s legacy of supporting this work and making a positive impact on our community though financial support, service and leadership,” said Joanne Pulles, Vice President, Community Engagement, HCA Healthcare.
Added Greater Nashville REALTORS® President Kristy Hairston, “Public education is a critical component to any community, and as REALTORS®, we are committed to building strong communities. Greater Nashville REALTORS® is honored to have served our public schools through the outstanding partnership we have had with PENCIL for more than 38 years. We look forward to the next 38 years as we grow our communities together.”
Ingram Industries’ then-CEO E. Bronson Ingram served as PENCIL’s founding Vice-Chair. “Few things say more about a city’s character and trajectory for success than its ability to work together to strengthen and improve its public schools. From day one Ingram has been a proud supporter of PENCIL and the critical role it plays in matching community resources with the needs of schools and classrooms across the city. We are proud to be part of an effort to ensure PENCIL’s long-term success supporting our schools,” said Emily Weiss, Ingram Industries’ Vice President of Community Relations.
Kroger has been especially supportive of Nashville teachers by donating thousands of dollars’ worth of supplies and Kroger gift cards to the LP PENCIL Box annually. “Kroger has been a proud part of PENCIL since we were first invited to ‘adopt’ Donelson Junior High 38 years ago. As America’s Grocer, Kroger is committed to serving the unique communities in which we operate, from reducing hunger, to providing nutrition education, to ensuring families can access healthy meals. With PENCIL, we’ve been able to introduce students to our company and our mission and support teachers by donating classroom supplies and other essentials to the LP PENCIL Box. These are small investments when compared to the return we see for our students and teachers,” shared Melissa Eads, Corporate Affairs Manager, Kroger Nashville division.
Learn more about the Our Schools, Our Future campaign at www.pencilforschools.org/ourfuture.
Founded in 1982, PENCIL (www.pencilforschools.org) links community resources to Metro Nashville Public Schools to help young people achieve academic success and prepare for life. PENCIL’s work is guided by the
needs of MNPS, is student-centric, and is achieved through partnerships and tangible engagements. PENCIL envisions a world where access and opportunities are equitable for all students to have a successful future.